by Abigail Javellana
Already captivated by the beauty of the northernmost tip of the Philippines, the magic of Batanes continues as we discover and experience its food! Find out how yummy authentic Ivatan dishes are--from freshly caught mahi-mahi, flying fish, and lobsters, to grass-fed cows, organic pork, root crops, and vegetables!
Ivatan-style cooking can be described as bland, using only salt, soy sauce, and vinegar as condiments. It's not hard to see that local Ivatans like to maintain a very healthy lifestyle.
Here are some of the dishes you should try...
1. Pension Ivatan
Pension Ivatan is just a few minutes away from the airport. Its doors opened in 2008 and has since been serving authentic Ivatan specialty cuisine.
Try the Breakfast Medley (P1,000; good for 5) of tocino, beef tapa, longganisa, paco, fried flying fish, scrambled eggs, fried kamote, garlic rice, and brewed coffee.
Besides this, you should also try the bestselling Ivatan Platter consisting of kinilaw, kaliente (beef skin), inihaw na liempo, lobtsers, coconut crab, fern salad, grilled flying fish, tuna, uvod (banana trunk), venes (gabi stalk), and beef tapa.
2. Coconut Crab
These crabs are known for their sweet meat and aligue. The best part is the aligue, which tastes like a mixture of crab fat mixed in coconut milk, bursting with creamy and sweet goodness that's best paired with rice (P1000/1 kilo).
These crabs, called tatus, are already on the endangered list and are only allowed to be consumed locally. We don't encourage tourists to participate.
Can you believe we got these rock lobsters at the market for just P1000? We suggest ordering these instead of the endangered coconut crabs.
Found on top of the Vayang Rolling Hills, Marconine’s offers an amazing view of the hills along with yummy Ivatan cuisine (P375/head).
Their steaming hot, fresh turmeric soup is perfect for that cold and windy day.
The sampler of grilled flying fish, sweet and sour chicken, and chopped harvest of the day--all served on Kabaya Leaf--shows off what the island has to offer.
The grilled flying fish was in season. Its meat is white in color, firm, and has a good taste.
We loved their dessert creation of kamote and gabi dipped in coconut milk. It has a creamy and milky texture.
Walking distance from Mahatao church is Paulvana's.
We had luñis, esnaladang talong, venes, and tumeric rice (P300/head).
Luñis is an indigenous dish of preserved pork and is usually served fried. It is very crispy and best eaten with Turmeric Rice, another Ivatan staple. Garnished with a generous amount of garlic, it resembles dried pork adobo.
The dish is made using a traditional preservation method by the Ivatans. The pork is salted and then cooked in big batches, letting the lard come out. After cooking, the pork is placed in jars called tagaw and submerged in it’s own lard. This allows the pork to last for a long time without spoiling.
We also liked the venes, a local vegetable dish made of preserved gabi stalks (taro). It's so dry, the stalk can last for years. Soak these in water, mince, then cook with pork and patola (luffa) and you get Batanes' own version of laing.
The yellow rice mixed with earthy turmeric gives the dishes that boost in flavor.
Mahi-mahi is a staple in this part of town, so you'll see a bunch of them being dried under the sun for preservation purposes.
7. Flying Fish
Whether grilled, dried, or made into a kilawin, freshly caught flying fish is a definite must-try!
Usually in meatball form, this dish is made of banana heart or banana stalks, mixed with ground meat.
9. Ube Halaya and Kamote Donuts
Don't forget to sample the Kamote Donuts, which are naturally sweet but not overly so like the ones you find in Manila.
You can also get Ube Halaya in a canteen near San Carlos Borromeo Church. It has been a favorite snack of locals and tourists alike (P15).
My favorite Ivatan dishes are the lobsters, kinilaw na flying fish, pork luñis, venes, and ube halaya. What about you, what's your favorite Ivatan specialty?
Thank you, Kuya Roger of Bashi Tours for helping us discover the flavors of Batanes!
Bashi Eco-Tours & Adventure
Batanes, Batan - Sabtang - Itbayat
Mobile: +63 999 990-7547
Guide: Roger Doplito
Live an Awesome Life,
ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet
Disclosure: We paid for our own food and tour. Our flight to Batanes was a project sponsored by Philippine Airlines. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions, and insights.